Keystone Species: Spider

A keystone species is a type of animal that is vital to its environment and its fellow animals.  An example of a keystone species is the spider. Though us humans generally think negatively of spiders, they provide great benefits to their environment and everything in it.

Spiders maintain our insect population.  Their webs, which attract insects, are the tools they utilize in keeping insects under control for everything else, while catching themselves a tasty meal.  Made of special silk in the spider’s abdominal glands, called spinnerets, the web is an intricate and detailed design varying from one spider species to the next.  Some are funnel-shaped and some are orb-webs which are what we typically think of when the word ‘web’ comes to mind.  But not all spiders spin silky traps.  Some spiders, like tarantulas, hunt by ambushing their prey, catching the victim off-guard.

Being a keystone species, if spiders lose numbers, the insect population can grow, harming plant life, animals and humans, and even some insects themselves.  Insects can be carnivorous or herbivorous, giving the species as a whole a vast range to potentially deal damage.  Thankfully, spiders are equipped to lay tens and even hundreds of eggs, providing a steady population that we can expect to remain healthy.  And as a result, spiders benefit their habitats and those living in it with them.

But as always, animals are unpredictable, and spiders are no exception.  They can invade your home, and, if one is not careful, spiders can deliver him a painful and venomous bite.  Not all spiders contain venom in their fangs.  Like the domestic house spider or the harvestman spider (daddy long-leg).

Spiders are a great beneficiary to their surrounding habitats and environments.  They maintain steady insect populations meanwhile providing safer and happier lives for everything else.  Conclusively, without the spider, animals, humans and plants would be in danger of overpopulation of insects.  So next time you think badly of a spider, remember what its kind does to provide healthier lives for their fellow organisms.


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